Sunday, August 8, 2010

Opening windows

By this stage of winter we have usually had a run of bitterly cold, windy days. The type of day that I have to resist my normal routine of flinging doors and windows open wide. The house has become decidedly musty with smoke and cooking smells and I don’t have time to constantly refill and monitor oil burners or clean up after incense.
Going through the filing cabinet (another winter job) I came across some old craft articles I hadn’t seen for years and a reminder of the winter pot pourri.
Winter pot pourri is a wet pot pourri that uses the woodier dried herbs, citrus peels and spices. It can be used hot or cold. I often use dried flowers for their colour, looking into a wet pot pourri is rather like gazing into an aquarium!

Take a handful of dried material, place in a heat proof container or jar and cover with hot white or cider vinegar. There are no strict measurements, just make sure the vinegar covers everything. Cover and leave until cool. The full aroma will develop after a week.
You can enhance the aroma by adding essential oils.
Air freshener: Simply remove the lid from your container to release the aroma or strain the vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil and place in a spray bottle.
Ironing: Use the spray diluted with an equal amount of distilled water in a spray bottle or in your steam iron to freshen your clothes.
Cleaning: Use undiluted on glass, stainless steel, tiles and non porous surfaces. Do not use on waxed or oiled timber.


There are no rules to this, try whatever you like. I started with a few ideas and then got carried away as I walked around the garden and dug into my pantry and my cosmetic making cupboard.

Baking Day

Cinnamon sticks, a piece of vanilla pod, allspice and a strip of fresh orange peel. Boost with cinnamon leaf, coffee essential oil or vanilla essence.

A sprig of cypress or pine needles, a pinch of myrrh or frankincense gum, a cinnamon stick, sandalwood shavings, a swirl of orange rind and allspice or juniper berries. Boost with orange essential oil, it makes you happy!

Bay leaves, allspice, cloves, black pepper, lemon verbena, fresh lemon peel. Boost with petit grain, lemongrass or lemon scented gum essential oils.
Pink! Don’t be tempted to use this as a spray on fabrics, the hibiscus flowers produce a wonderful pink dye.
Rose petals, lavender, hibiscus, whole coriander seeds, lemon balm, a piece of vanilla pod and fresh mandarin peel. Boost with jasmine, frangipani, lavender or ylang ylang essential oil.


The strength of the wet pot pourri is enhanced by simmering the mixture. A Pyrex or ceramic casserole can simmer gently on a wood stove or fire or sit in front of a gas heater. Not only will it help prevent the air in the room becoming too dry, the oils given off by the pot pourri can have a therapeutic effect. I like to use cider vinegar for therapeutic blends.
Place dried material in a heat proof casserole, cover with hot vinegar and put lid on. Leave on top of your wood burning stove, away from the hottest part of the fire .Remove lid when the fire is lit to release the fragrance. Top up with half vinegar and half water as needed and add extra dry material weekly.
This is a great blend to ward off winter colds. Cinnamon sticks, eucalyptus leaves, dried thyme, whole cloves, tea tree leaves, half an inch of root ginger, a whole chilli and 2 garlic cloves. Boost with eucalyptus, tea tree or thyme essential oil.
Headache (remember Jack and Jill?)
Use  dried or fresh rosemary sprigs, lavender and cloves with cider vinegar. Boost with rosemary or lavender essential oils.

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